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Coronavirus Today: When customers won’t wear masks

Good evening. I’m Diya Chacko, and it’s Monday, June 29. Here’s what’s happening with the coronavirus in California and beyond.

Cases and hospitalizations are continuing to skyrocket across the state. Over the past week alone, the state has averaged 5,313 new cases and 60.3 new deaths per day, according to The Times’ coronavirus tracker, which also found that patient counts are climbing in 16 counties.

The total number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County, the state’s COVID-19 hotbed, is now more than 100,000. And the toll on Latino and Black residents keeps getting worse: The mortality rate for these two groups is now double the mortality rate for white residents.

Responding to the discouraging trends, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Sunday ordered Los Angeles County and four counties in the San Joaquin Valley — Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare — to shut down bars. Imperial and San Joaquin counties, which have not allowed bars to reopen, are being ordered by the state to keep them closed. On Monday, Newsom warned that the state will continue to pull back on the reopening as COVID-19 spreads.

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A look at the data shows that the increase in disease transmission can be traced back to Memorial Day weekend, when people began to venture outside to visit beaches, gather with relatives and, more seriously, to take part in the historic protests against police violence. And more recently, people haven’t been adhering to health orders to wear masks in public and stay away from crowded situations.

In fact, employees of restaurants and retail businesses have reported outright hostility from patrons who were asked to follow masking and distancing orders. Hugo’s Tacos announced Sunday that it would temporarily close its two Los Angeles locations after seeing a mounting onslaught of harassment from customers, including racial epithets and drinks being hurled at workers through order windows.

L.A. County officials said today they are now facing one of their biggest fears: that the sudden jump in disease transmission amid businesses reopening has the potential to overwhelm public and private hospitals. It’s a worst-case scenario that could come to pass if patients recently exposed to the virus fill up hospital beds in the coming weeks. In anticipation of the Fourth of July holiday, the county will close all of its beaches Friday through Monday and ban fireworks displays.

“There are a number of businesses and individuals who have not followed the directives and they’ve gone back to living like COVID-19 is not living in our community,” said L.A. County Health Director Barbara Ferrer. “If you’re not part of the solution to slow the spread, you’re ending up being part of the problem.”

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By the numbers

California cases and deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Monday:

More than 216,800 California cases and at least 5,941 deaths as of 3:30 p.m. PDT Monday, June 29.
(Compiled by L.A. Times Graphics)

Track the latest numbers and how they break down in California with our graphics.

The Newsom administration's roadmap to reopening California.
(Priya Krishnakumar/Los Angeles Times)
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See which counties are reopening with our tracker.

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Across California

The new state budget has set accountability rules for K-12 schools, such as requiring teachers to take online attendance and document student learning. The new rules acknowledge the deep educational losses experienced by students in the last semester, especially among those from low-income families, when school systems struggled to get all students online. And they foresee a heavy reliance on distance learning when the fall semester begins: According to an L.A. Unified School District survey, about 20% of Los Angeles parents said they are not ready to send their children back to a campus this fall. In addition, more than a third of employees said they are against returning.

Student-athletes are beginning to prepare for fall sports, but tensions are growing between parents and coaches. As high school players begin their conditioning, their coaches are growing increasingly worried that athletes are working out or participating in gatherings run by private coaches who don’t follow safety guidelines — which might compromise overall team safety. “I don’t have any control over what people can do on their own,” said the football coach at Paraclete High School in Lancaster.

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For other families, safety concerns are paramount. Parents of UCLA and USC student-athletes are voicing concerns over the adequacy of coronavirus protection measures as their children return to campus for workouts. They said that while the workouts are voluntary, the pressure to return — and fear of retribution for declining — only add to their worries. “I’m not throwing my kids into the hellfire just to appease someone,” said the mother of two USC football players.

Resources

— For general safety, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds (here’s a super-fun how-to video). Stop touching your face, and keep your phone clean. Practice social distancing, maintaining a six-foot radius of personal space in public. And wear a mask if you leave home. Here’s how to do it right.
— Watch for symptoms including fever, cough, shortness of breath, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell. If you’re worried you might be infected, call your doctor or urgent care clinic before going there.
— Need a COVID-19 test? Here’s how to receive a free test if you’re in L.A. County. And here’s a map of testing sites across California.
— Here’s how to care for someone with COVID-19, from monitoring their symptoms to preventing the virus’ spread.
— If your job has been affected by the pandemic, here’s how to file for unemployment.
— Here are some free resources for restaurant workers and entertainment industry professionals having trouble making ends meet.
— Advice for helping kids navigate pandemic life includes being honest about uncertainties, acknowledging their feelings and sticking to a routine. Here’s guidance from the CDC.
— In need of mental health services? Here are resources for coping during the crisis from the CDC and the L.A. County Department of Public Health. L.A. County residents can also call (800) 854-7771 or text “LA” to 741741.
Tempted to go out now that the economy is reopening? Here’s how you can assess your risk.

Around the nation and the world

Will Major League Baseball fans be allowed in the stands in 2020? The league’s Operations Manual mentions that it’s a possibility, although Dodgers President Stan Kasten says “it is not on the table anytime soon.” Still, the notion that some teams might be allowed to have fans at games is prompting questions of fairness around home-field advantage and finances.

Country music singers Chase Rice and Chris Janson played to packed concert venues Saturday in Tennessee and Idaho, respectively. Video footage of their sets showed that many attendees chose to ignore recommended safety measures, which drew outcry from fans and the music industry. “Imagine being selfish enough to put thousands of people’s health at risk, not to mention the potential ripple effect,” said country pop singer Kelsea Ballerini.

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The pandemic has brought forth an abundance of virtual content, from DJs spinning free sets to Broadway singers performing on YouTube. However, streaming images, video, music and books turn every interaction and event into a performance, display or broadcast of intellectual property — which could result in a copyright can of worms that current law isn’t equipped to handle.

Your questions answered

Today’s question comes from readers who want to know: How can we plan family gatherings and stay safe? Here’s what we’ve found.

Party planning must be all about managing risk and advance communications with all your guests, said a UCLA epidemiology professor in an interview with Times writer Jeanette Marantos. The coronavirus can lie dormant for 10 to 14 days before an infected person gets sick, and some people can be infected without showing any symptoms.

If you are bringing outsiders into your household, you want to minimize exposure to the droplets people produce when they talk, shout, laugh, sneeze or cough. It also means limiting the number of people who touch common items, such as serving spoons, spigots, bottle openers and doorknobs.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released updated advice for planning and hosting gatherings. It includes:

— Reminding people to stay home if sick
— Hosting gatherings outdoors and maintaining distances of six feet
— Asking people to wear masks (now required in California) and cleaning hands often
— Limiting the number of people serving food
— Disinfecting commonly touched surfaces

In addition, consider letting guests know who else is coming so they can make their own assessments about their level of acceptable risk. Prepare to provide attendees with masks if they arrive without one. Let people know when food will be served so they can plan to eat and drink without masks on at a safe distance. Read all 42 tips on safe party planning here.

And remember, California still has certain restrictions on communal gatherings, although they vary between cities and counties. You can find the rules for your area on The Times’ reopening tracker.

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Got a question? Our reporters covering the coronavirus outbreak want to hear from you. Email us your questions, and we’ll do our best to answer them. You can find more answers in our Frequently Asked Questions roundup and on our coronavirus roundup page.

For the most up-to-date coronavirus coverage from The Times, visit our homepage and our Health section, listen to our “Coronavirus in California” podcast and follow us on Twitter and on Instagram.


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